UK workers taking more time off

An annual study by Westfield Health of over 2,000 UK workers shows a worrying increase in the number of days employees take off work due to poor mental health, with absences more than doubling since 2019.

The on-going cost of living crisis is translating into a mental health recession with workers feeling the strain mentally as well as financially. The research reveals that financial worries, anxiety about the future and burnout were the top three issues impacting mental health.

UK workers are taking more time off due to poor mental health


Two-fifths (40%) of employees took time off due to mental health in 2022 — and the number of mental health days they’re taking has been gradually increasing since our first study in 2019.

Last year, the average employee reported taking 4.8 days of mental health absence — almost a full working week. One in 10 (10%) of workers say they took more than 10 days off due to poor mental health in 2022, signalling a pattern of either recurring or longer-term absences.

The average number of mental health days off taken by UK employees each year:

  • 2019 — 2.19 days
  • 2020 — 3.19 days
  • 2021 — 3.36 days
  • 2022 — 4.80 days


How much do mental health absences cost UK businesses?


In 2022, mental health absences cost UK businesses £18bn. Coupled with the impact of poor mental health on productivity and morale, the true cost to businesses could be even higher.

In fact, more than half of workers report that their mental health takes a toll on their productivity while they’re at work — a common symptom of presenteeism- the practice of coming to work despite illness, injury or mental health problems, often resulting in reduced productivity.

  • 51% of UK employees say their mental health has affected their productivity in the past year.
  • 46% of workers use the wellbeing support offered by their employer.
  • 32% of people say they still don’t have access to wellbeing support at work.

The mental health crisis continues to accelerate


Almost a third (30%) of workers feel their mental health got worse in 2022 and financial worries topped the list of causes, with 43% of people saying this was a source of stress for them.

The most common reasons for poor mental health in 2022 were:

  • Financial worries – 43%
  • Anxiety about the future – 37%
  • Feeling burnt out – 30%
  • Work stress – 27%
  • Stress outside of work – 24%

To break the cycle, business leaders and line managers must work together to step in and provide meaningful mental health support.


ONS statistics- Working days lost to sickness jumps to record high


The number of working days lost because of sickness or injury was an estimated 185.6 million working days in 2022, a new record high. This represents an increase of 35.8 million from 2021 and 47.4 million more than its pre-pandemic 2019 level.

ONS head of labour market and household statistics David Freeman said: “Sickness absence rose again in 2022, so that the proportion of working hours lost was the highest since 2004. This comes after it dropped to its lowest-ever rate at the start of the pandemic when lockdown and furloughing reduced people’s exposure to minor illnesses. Because the working population is much bigger now than it was nearly 20 years ago, in 2022 the total number of working days lost was the highest on record.”  Read more here


IADC Mental Health in Energy


I was delighted to attend an event in Aberdeen this week hosted by Darren Sutherland, VP of Borr Drilling and Chairman of the International Association of Drilling Contractors North Sea Chapter.  The panel shared their personal experiences of managing mental health in the workplace and an hour-long workshop followed with over 100 participants discussing a variety of questions.

I felt it was a positive step forward with a recognition that mental health in the energy sector is an issue which needs to be addressed NOW!


P3 Business Care

P3 Business Care is a Community Interest Company and social enterprise operating across the UK. Supporting your business on a weekly basis we provide personal and proactive care to your employees and immediate family working in partnership with the company. Our Business Partners visit your business weekly developing trust & relationships so we can identify and address issues before they become crisis, absence, or staff turnover.  Read more about our services here


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